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  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Fish and fishing
  • Food and drink
  • Ships and shipping


  • Documentary


  • This modern age


  • 1940s

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Reference number: 0632

Date: 1947*

Sponsor: [ J. Arthur Rank]

Production company: This Modern Age Ltd.

Sound: sound

Original format: 35mm

Colour: bw

Fiction: non-fiction

Running time: 18 mins

Description: Whaling in the Antarctic.

See also book for background information Air Whaler by John Grierson (Flight Commodore of the Whaling Factory ship Balaena). Published by Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd.

See also British Film Institute information at [last accessed 22/4/2014]

Credits: Monthly Film Review.
dist. General Film Distributors Ltd. Issue No. 12
[filmed by Alec Bryce]

Shotlist: Credits (.28) several shots of icebergs (.54) shots penguins and seal on the ice and of whale in the sea (1.07) rough seas and more ice (1.24) seabird flying over the sea (1.30) factory ships (2.09) shot of the factory ship "Balaena" (2.12) shots of her launch (2.53) "Balaena" leaves Southampton before dawn for the Antarctic (3.08) general shots of the voyage. Men and officers on deck and in canteen, the radio room, cabins (4.15) shots of a few of the ten "Catchers" accompanying "Balaena" on the look out for whales ["catchers" are small manoeuverable ships which do the actual killing of the whales]. Shots of harpoon gun. (5.45) a whale is sighted and the chase is on (6.39) harpoon with an explosive charge attached is fired at the whale (7.25) shots of whale, its strength ebbing (7.43) whale is inflated to ensure it stays afloat, marked with the name of the company (UW) and left to be picked up at a later date (7.58) more shots of "catcher" on the look-out for another whale (8.50) another is sighted and then hunted down (10.30) shots of and from the aircraft which is carried by the factory ship to help find whales, track them, and once harpooned, find shelter for the "catchers" (11.28) the "catchers" bring their whales back to the factory ship. (11.50) shot of row of dead, inflated whales, floating on the furface (11.55) the whales are pulled up a slipway onto the factory ship where scientists examine the wales before they are processed (12.36) shots as workers sharpen their blades while the whales are being measured by the government officials (13.04) whale is skinned (13.47) the carcass is moved through the ship, the body being cut up as it goes (14.10) bones are cut small for meat and oil, and passed below deck for processing into margarine and soap oils, vitamins, fertilisers, cattle food and human food. Shots of men at work below deck (15.03) tanker arrives to re-fuel the ship, deliver mail and take away the whale oil and bone meal back to the UK for further processing (1.515) shots of ships in rough sea. 2500 whales killed in one season. Narrator briefly raises question of the ethics/morality of such large-scale slaughter and the method of killing. Shots of whale in death throes (17.53) shots of advancing ice. The ships have to leave but they will soon return (18.20) ecs (18.27)